Damn Analog Technology

August 21st, 2013

It's a matter of time.

Do you remember a time when you would have to rewind a tape to check it was in the right position before you record, only to discover something else you had almost totally forgotten was on the tape?

Or perhaps you are sat there now wondering about tape, caught in nostalgia? So lets move on from that the sooner the better please. Maybe you remember TDK, Agfa, Memorex or those black and gold Sony tape cassettes?


It is definitely easier to remember these older formats now due to the internet. A quick typing into Google and we have pictures of all our memories, or at least someone else’s memories. Sure, we might start to remember all sorts of things, but there is one thing that we are perhaps not so easily able to recall. Maybe we can’t recall it due to our not realising it the first time.

What I am particularly interested in, and you should be too, is the amount of time required to do something with this earlier technology. It is not so much remembering that yes, things did take a long time back then, but more importantly what affect that time had on our experience, and more specifically its affect on creativity.

Tapes have had a bit of a resurgence in electronic music recently. It is quite often now that I see the tape used ‘in’ creativity, adding texture, saturation or that seemingly much loved sound of nostalgia. It is rare though that we see the tape being used as ‘the’ format to record to, the last place our music ends up. I wonder why, and can only presume much like myself, new technology has come along to replace it that is quicker or easier to use.

With all steps forward in technology come the classic discussions, and sometimes out right arguments, that new is better, or old is warmer… yada yada yada. The truth as we all know, or should do by now, is it’s simply different. The sooner we get our heads around this idea the better. However, what we might overlook with all things being different, is it is exactly the ‘difference’ that is the key here, as difference is exactly the thing we need to consider when we so eagerly move from one technology to some newer version, often one created for our ease and convenience, created to save us time.

So it’s quicker, louder, cleaner, easier, more options, less options, it makes us a cup of tea and wakes us up at the same time perhaps. Does all this really equate to mean it’s better? As we have just said, and hopefully agreed, well no, it’s not better, just different. It might take less time, but that isn’t always a good thing. It might be easier to use, but that isn’t always a good thing. It might allow us to store more information or recall this information at a click of a button, and by todays standards that is surely almost a given as being an improvement and yet no, this too it is not always a good thing.

Time is important, not just through the time we save but how we use that time, how time allows us to explore, to invest in something, to change, to decide, to think, to revert. Time is the one tool that allows us a deeper examination into development and it is both time saved and time taken that are both as important as each other.

With all new advances in technology, we need to constantly consider time. We need to think carefully about how we create, and how much time is taken while we create, and if this time changes through changing our technology, then we need to consider this on both sides of time. Time saved and time spent.

The next time you are keen to buy something, change something, ‘improve’ something on the basis of ‘it will save you time’, stop, pause, take a moment and think. Apart from saving time, what else have you failed to save? Maybe it is the fact of this damn analog technology that we have been wrestling with, cursing at, hitting with our fists, is the real reason we are getting the results we are. That maybe by removing this so called problem of time wasted, we have actually overlooked something far more important. It was not wasted time after all.